Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

Botswana: Moupo Says He is Down And Out

The president of the Botswana National Front (BNF), Otsweletse Moupo has denied allegations that he intends to stand as a parliamentary candidate in the forthcoming general elections.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament has been knocked out of the elections after his attempt to defend the Gaborone West North parliamentary seat ended in humiliation at the BNF primaries. There has been talk that Moupo might shift to Gaborone South, where the BNF MP, Akanyang Magama is hanging by the teeth after the courts nullified his suspension from the party and re-instated him as the rightful candidate for the constituency. It is said the BNF is victimising Magama so that he can pave way for Moupo. Last year, former Gaborone mayor Nelson Ramaotwana who was by then the BNF candidate for Gaborone Central, said he could step down for Moupo.

But the embattled BNF leader said last week that he will not contest the general elections. At the launch of the BNF parliamentary candidate for Molepolole North, Mohammed Khan, Moupo said it is a blessing in disguise that he lost the primary elections.

The loss means that he has time to campaign for BNF candidates throughout the country. He said he will think about his future after the elections. Recently, he was rushed to hospital after he developed problems at a BNF congress.

There has been speculation that Moupo might be appointed a judge at the Industrial Court. The BNF leader is a lawyer and specialises in labour matters. Other sources say he intends to revive his law practice. Moupo made it to Parliament in 2005 following a by-election at Gaborone West North. The by-election was called after the death of BNF MP, Paul Rantao. Moupo trounced tycoon, Robert Masitara of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with the help of a united opposition. In 2004, Moupo stood as a BNF parliamentary candidate for Selebi-Phikwe West but was walloped by the BDP's Kavis Kario. He shifted to Gaborone West North, a BNF stronghold because the party felt that its leader must be in Parliament to effectively drive the opposition agenda. As an MP, Moupo's focus has been distracted by a rearguard battle to overcome problems in his personal life. At one time there were calls from some party members that he should step down because of the problems. His refusal to quit has caused crippling divisions in the party.

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